Brussels, 20 April 2011
State aid: investment by the French fund FMEA in the Trèves group does not constitute state aid
After an in-depth investigation, the European Commission has concluded that the investment in May 2009 by the Fonds de modernisation des équipementiers automobiles (FMEA) in the French Trèves group did not constitute state aid under the European rules. Trèves, an automotive supplier specialising in car interiors, found itself in difficulties as a result of the economic and financial crisis. The investigation of FMEA’s intervention found that the fund had complied with the principle of a prudent investor operating in a market economy.
Joaquín Almunia, the Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, said: ‘After an in-depth investigation the Commission concluded that FMEA had complied with the principle of a prudent investor. I will, however, remain vigilant, to ensure that public investment in the automobile sector does not distort competition in the internal market’.
After an in-depth investigation, launched in January 2010 (see IP/10/100), the Commission concluded that the €55 million investment in May 2009 by the Fonds de modernisation des équipementiers automobiles (FMEA) in the Trèves group, and the rescheduling of its tax and social security debts amounting to €18 million, complied with market conditions and did not, therefore, constitute state aid under the European rules (Article 107(1) TFEU). The French group Trèves specialises in components for car interiors.
The investigation showed that Trèves’ restructuring plan was realistic and credible. The terms of the investment and the predicted return also suggest that FMEA acted under conditions similar to those of a prudent investor operating in a market economy. The Commission found that the internal rate of return on the operation (over 12%) was based on sound assumptions. The investment structure, partly in the form of capital and partly in the form of debt securities giving access to capital, is also highly advantageous to FMEA. The investment does not therefore constitute state aid.
The Commission also found that the plan for rescheduling Trèves’ tax and social security debts was accompanied by arrangements, particularly sizeable guarantees, comparable to those which a private lender in a market economy would have insisted upon. The two measures examined by the Commission do not, therefore, constitute state aid.
At the beginning of 2009 the economic and financial crisis compelled Trèves to implement a restructuring plan. In addition to the contribution from FMEA, the restructuring plan relied on a very large contribution from private financial partners and institutions.
FMEA is a fund managed by CDC Entreprises which receives equal contributions from the Fonds stratégique d’investissement (backed by the French Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations), the PSA Peugeot Citroën group and the Renault group.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under case number C4/2010 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website, once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. The electronic newsletter State aid Weekly e-News lists the most recent decisions on state aid published in the Official Journal and on the website.